Monday, January 4, 2010

Gnosticism & The "Real" World Part 10

To finish with the quote from Aleister Crowley from part 9: "...The only Word which can unite Mankind is "Do what thou wilt" for this asks no man to distort his personality to serve a fixed idea of conduct. At the same time, the injunction is most austere; for it permits no man to go beyond the aim appointed by his nature. The real opposition to the Law of Thelema lies just here. The base understand by instinct that this Law must destroy the whole machinery of the civilization which assumes that the greatest good of man is the possession of material means of enjoyment."

Going from Crowley to Tobias Churton in Gnostic Philosophy on page 339: "The Cephaloedium Working (Cefalu, Sicily, 1920-21) produced a "comentary on the Book of the Law" that represented much of his mature consideration of its import--although, in a sense, his entire life subsequent to April 1904 was a living commentary on the book and its perils."

" The Cefalu "Commentary" contains enlightenment, rhetoric, and disciplined synthesis. We learn, for example, that the Greek kabbalistic numbers of Agape (Love) and Thelema (Will) are both 93, as in Aiwass, spelled Aiwaz, the name of the god of the Yezdis: "Our work is therefore historically authentic, the rediscovery of the Sumerian Tradition...(the earliest home of our race.)"

Going forward in Gnostic Philosophy on the same page: "It also suggested that the principal deities of the Book of the Law, Nuit and Hadit, correspond to Anu and Adad, the supreme Father and Mother deities of the Sumerians."

"It may also be added that Nuit corresponds not only to the Gnostic Sophia (Wisdom), the Lady of the Stars, bu also to Sabbaoth, the starry sky goddess of the Sabians. In late antiquity, and even after the Islamic Hejirah, the Sabians took the Hermetica as their scripture in the city of Harran."

"The Book of the Law is divided into three chapters, being the repective expressions of three cosmic concepts personified in the form of three Egyptian deities: Hadit (motion), Nuit (infinite space), and Ra Hoor Khuit (the martial aspect of Horus and archon for the Aeon)."

"Space is motion-concealed, and by motion, space is made manifest, at the center of every atom in the cosmos. These dynamics also correspond to the Shiva and the Shakti of the Hindu pantheon and the Tao and Teh of Chinese philosophy. The conception is profound and has many intriguing correspondences. Crowley wrote: "It is cosmographically, the conception of the two Ultimate Ideas, Space, and that which occupies Space...These two ideas may be resolved into one, that of Matter: with Space its 'Condition' or 'form' included therein. This leaves the idea of 'Motion' for Hadit, whose interplay with Nuit makes the Universe. Time should be considered as a particular kind of dimension of Space." In chapter one of the Book of the Law is the enchanting thought that: "Every man and every woman is a star"; "each human being is an Element of the Cosmos, self-determined and Supreme, co-equal with all other Gods. From this Law 'Do what thou wilt' follows logically." Now of course, one can only imagine what the various major religions of the world would make of this. Every man and woman a star? Do what thou wilt? I can just imagine the paroxysms of hatred and fury these thoughts would send a fundamentalist preacher (any religion) into!

Crowley's commentary on Hoor-paar-Kraat, for whom Aiwass is a minister is informative and exquisite: Hoor-paar-Kraat or Harpocrates, the Babe in the Egg of Blue, is not merely the God of Silence in a conventional sense. He represents the Higher Self, the Holy Guardian Angel...He is the first letter of the Alphabet, Aleph [Hebrew], whose number is One and his card in the Tarot is the Fool numbered Zero...In his absolute innocence and ignorance he is "The Fool"; he is "The Saviour," being the Sun who shall trample on the crocodiles and tigers and avenge is father Osiris.

Thus we see him as the "Great Fool" of Celtic legend, the "Pure Fool" of Act 1 of Parsifal, and generally speaking, the insane person whose words have always been taken for oracles. But to be "Saviour" he must be born and grow to manhood; thus Parsifal acquires the Sacred Lance, emblem of virility. He usually wears the "Coat of many colours" like Joseph the "dreamer"; so he is also now Green Man of spring festivals. But his "folly" is now not innocence but inspiration of wine, he drinks from the Graal...Almost identical symbols are those the bisexual Baphomet, and of Zeus Arrhenothelus, equally bisexual, the Father-Mother of All in One Person. (...Tarot Trump XV, "The Devil.") Now Zeus being Lord of Air we are reminded that Aleph is the letter of Air. As Air we find the "Wandering Fool" [the Troubadour] pure wanton Breath, yet creative...He is the Wandering Knight or Prince of Fairy Tales who marries the King's Daughter.

...Thus once Europa, Semele and others claimed the Zeus-Air had enjoyed them in the form of a beast, bird or what-not; while later Mary attributed her condition to the agency of a Spirit, Spiritus, breath of air,-in the shape of a dove.

But the "Small Person" of Hindu mysticism, the dwarf insane yet crafty of many legends in many lands, is also the same "Holy Ghost," or Silent Self of a man, or his Holy Guardian Angel. He is almost the "unconscious" of Freud, unknown, unaccountable. "Blowing whither it listeth, but thou canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth." It commands with absolute authority when it appears at all, despite reason and judgement.

Aiwass is there...the "minister" of this Hoor-paar-Kraat, that is of the Saviour of the world in the larger sense, and of mine own "Silent Self" in the lesser." In Gnostic Philosophy, Tobias Churton talks about the "Child" being a very important archetype in our age: "A key aspect of Horus is that of the "Crowned and Conquering Child." In the Yorke Collection, Caephalodium Working (1920-21), folder k.1., Crowley had this to say: "The Concealed Child becomes the Conquering Child: the armed Horus avenging his father, Osiris. So also our own Silent Self, helpless and witless, hidden within us, will spring forth, if we have craft to loose him to the Light, spring lustily forward with his Cry of Battle, the Word of our True Wills."

The image is a collection of the Gnostic deity "Abraxas" images. Thanks again everyone for your thoughtful and intelligent comments! I hope to post again here soon-until then all the best to anyone stopping by!

4 comments:

X. Dell said...

I think this is a good framework for understanding Crowley in some of the ways other than how popular culture paints him. There is a depth to his writings that often goes unnoticed. Still, misunderstanding by others has fostered historic calamity--and this trend of the influence seems to continue. Then too, there are misunderstandings and limitations of Crowley that call into questions such basic tenets of Thelema, most notably "Do what thou wilt."

A while ago, when I was writing about the occult influences on Charles Manson, Charles Gramlich pointed out that some of the mystic beliefs of this period dovetailed with scientific theories of the day, and thus many constued of them as philosophy. This post, in particular, brings to mind certain thematic connections between Crowley and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Justin Russell said...

Good series Dev, been enjoying it. Crowley was a fascinating character for sure.

benjibopper said...

Happy New Year Devin!

Great quotes from Crowley. As X said, great depth there, but I also found a certain poetic sense to his writing which I really enjoyed.

Devin said...

Xdell, Justin and benji-please forgive my lateness in getting to your comments!
I have been having quite a time with physical exhaustion lately -don't seem to be terribly sick -just no energy at all-just took a shower, and emptied trash today and it feels like I have climbed Mt Everest!
I am going to try to do another article in this series this afternoon-it might be quite short depending on how I feel
I appreciate the continued excellent comments and such !!
Thanks for the many ideas you brought up X-I always get a lot out of Charles' comments too at your place-and thanks for all of your support here-hope this exhaustion thing is just a phase -and hope to chat very soon-best to all of you!!